, Volume 70, Issue 2, pp 227-233

Resource sharing among ramets in the clonal herb, Fragaria chiloensis

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The herbaceous perennial, Fragaria chiloensis, reproduces vegetatively on coastal sand dunes in California by growth of stolons that bear rosettes. Movement of water and photosynthates through stolons integrates water and carbon metabolism of rosettes both before and after they root. New, unrooted rosettes import sufficient water and nitrogen to maintain levels near those of established rosettes; yet support of an unrooted rosette did not decrease growth of a connected, rooted sibling given abundant light, water, and soil nutrients. Under such conditions strings of unrooted rosettes with the associated stolon appeared self-sufficient for carbon; shade and drought induced import of photosynthates. New rosettes produced and maintained a limited root mass upon contact with dry sand, which could increase probability of establishment. Rooting did not induce senescence of stolons. Connection between two established rosettes prevented death by drought and shade, even when neither rosette could have survived singly. Results suggest that physiological integration of connected rosettes may increase total growth of clones of F. chiloensis through sharing of resources among ramets, especially when resource availability is changeable or patchy.